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Trai clears Reliance Jio's `Happy New Year' free data and voice offer

03 February 2017

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has absolved Reliance Jio's free promotional tariff offer of charges of being discriminatory or predatory, a Hindu BusinessLine report quoting Trai officials said.

The report said Trai officials have examined the tariff plans being offered by RJio and found these to be compliant with existing rules. Under the rules operators are allowed to offer a promotional scheme for not more than 90 days.

Incumbent operators, including Bharti Airtel, had filed complaints against Reliance Jio's extension of the free voice and data offer beyond the prescribed 90 days, which, they said, was anti-competitive and predatory.

RJio had launched its services in September, offering free voice and data services for three months under a welcome offer and that was to end on 5 December. However, Jio announced a Happy New Year Plan under which the free offer was extended till March this year.

The new scheme allowed its existing as well as new users to continue to get voice and data services for free. It, however, limited the free data usage to 1 GB per day.

The incumbent operators said that both offers were identical and hence the 90-day cap had been violated.

TRAI officials, however, said on examination of RJio's schemes it was found that the Welcome Offer differed from the Happy New Year offer. ''These are two different promotional offers. One ended in December and the other is ending in March. So, there is no violation,'' the report quoted the Trai official as saying on condition of anonymity.

Earlier, the Attorney General of India had also communicated to Trai that Reliance Jio's tariff plans do not violate any existing regulation.

RJio's free offer is unsettling the incumbents. While Airtel's third-quarter profits nearly halved, Vodafone and Idea Cellular are exploring a merger to stay afloat.

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